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Historically the UK has been home to some of the world’s most prestigious underwater photography competitions. Bernard Eaton kicked it off when he organized the first Brighton Underwater Film Festival in 1965 (and it was a competition that led to the foundation of the British Society of Underwater Photographers in 1967). Furthermore, Britain continues to be the home of world class wildlife photography competitions, like the Wildlife Photography of the Year and British Wildlife Photography Awards. But since these only cater to images of wildlife, fifty years after the original Brighton Festival they decided to bring a dedicated and international underwater photography contest back to Britain.

Underwater Photographer of the Year 2016 'Gold' by Davide Lopresti (Italy)

"Over the years seahorses have been drastically reduced in the Mediterranean sea, only in the last period was there a significant restocking thanks to an awareness campaign of the sea and its preservation, bounding off limits area for fishing, where even more vulnerable and delicate creatures like sea horses can be free to recreate. For this shot in particular, I used a long exposure time, to give dynamism to the image, combining the ambient light and artificial light with the aid of a snoot, freezing my main subject from the rest of the scene giving a sense of grace and strength at the same time."

Wide Angle category winner: 'Underwater fisherman' by Mike Korostelev (Russia)

"Cages are more commonly associated with photographing great white sharks, but I constructed a cage to keep me safe as I captured the fishing behaviour of the bear."

Runner up for Wide Angle category 'Mangrove sunset' by Fabio Galbiati (Italy)

"I decided to make a shot at sunset, and after a long search I found the right root with this nudibranch (Jorunna Funebris) intent on feeding. After framing to restrict the backscatter I only had to wait for the sun to do his duty and ... press the shutter!"

Third place for Wide Angle category 'Lagoon' by Greg Lecoeur (France)

Black tip sharks & ray in the Lagoon of Moorea.

Winner in the Wrecks category 'A family affair' by Thomas Heckmann (Germany)

"I was unable to descend because I had to take care of Maja, my five year old daughter who is unable to snorkel by herself. So my only possibility was a shot from the surface. It was too rough for a normal over/under shot."

Runner up in the Wrecks category 'Truck parking' by Anders Nyberg (Sverige)

"I really like the SS Thistlegorm and can not get enough of this beautiful wreck. What makes the wreck so unique is the great opportunity to create stunning wreck images, especially if you add one or more off camera strobes to create more depth in the image."

Winner in the British Waters Compact category 'Hello Ducky!' by Paul Colley (UK)

"Whilst trying to photograph trout during a year-long river project with a home-made pole-cam, a raft of Mallard ducks muscled in to steal food intended to entice trout to the camera. This initial nuisance became an interesting opportunity and, shooting blind with the camera on the pole, I managed to catch the trout below water with a duck swimming overhead."

Third place in the Macro category 'The odd couple' by Gianni Colucci (Italia)

"During a night dive at around midnight, I found this pair of seahorses (Hippocampus Guttulatus). I watched, mesmerised as they swam in the shallows holding each other by the tail. The scene was something majestic, a magic only enhanced by the beauty of the location, illuminated by the full moon."

Winner in the Behaviour category 'Turtle eating Jellyfish' by Richard Carey (Thailand)

"After an early morning dive in the Similan Islands, we stopped in a bay to have breakfast. A Green Turtle (Chelonia Mydas) surfaced near our boat. I decided to get in and snorkel with it, watching it as it searched for food."

Runner up in the Behaviour category 'What feeds beneath' by Alejandro Prieto (Mexico)

"I entered the cold November the water to photograph a pair of humpback whales which passed away very quickly, swimming back to the boat I saw a small moving object in front of me; it was a Hawaiian petrel submerging its head to feed on the tiny crustaceans."

Third place in the Behaviour category 'Millions of crabs' by Rui Guerra (Portugal)

"Every year, millions of crabs (Polybius Henslowii) form large red masses in places along the coast of Portugal. This high density of swimming crabs is somewhat rare. On this day we first spotted some dispersed crabs, but it took us almost an hour to find a higher concentration."

Commended for the Behaviour category 'Battle at the Nine' by Ralph Pace (USA)

"Nine miles off the coast of San Diego, CA is a high spot called the Nine Mile Bank. A great area to encounter pelagic animals in blue water. With much of the bait having moved north due to the warmer water El Nino regime, The Nine has been very different this year. As we were driving along we saw birds and a commotion at the surface. We quickly realized it was a sea lion eating a mola, not a sea lion's common fare. It was incredible scene."

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